Dark of Night

Mysterious Book Report No. 504

by John Dwaine McKenna

Dark of Night, (Thomas & Mercer, PB, $15.95, 388 pages, ISBN 978-1-6625-0081-7), by Barbara Nickless, continues her inexorable march to fame with the latest installment of the adventures of her endearing and brilliant, but height challenged semiotician, Dr. Evan Wilding.  At four feet six inches tall, his body suffers from dwarfism, but his mind is brilliant as he studies signs and symbols and their relationship to the physical world.  He’s an expert with Middle Eastern languages, cuneiform and hieroglyphics, a full professor at the University of Chicago, as well as a consultant for the Chicago PD at the behest of Detective Addie Bisset . . . with whom he’s in love.  But it’s a courtly love from afar, unrequited and one-sided, never to be consummated.

Detective Bisset calls Dr. Wilding in when an old friend and mentor of his, Elizabeth Lawrence, is found dead—bitten by an Egyptian Cobra.  Wilding is certain her death was murder, based upon his long-standing friendship with the irascible historian.  The police believe she may have committed suicide because she had just months to live with terminal cancer.  Evan thinks Elizabeth’s work with a privately funded biblical museum over some sketchy-provenances in their antiquities acquisitions from the Middle East may be the real reason for her death.  That’s when Evan meets a stealthy Israeli named Ronen Avraham, a likely Mossad operative who helps in the quest to repatriate looted artifacts which properly belong to the country of origin.  Then there’s the ethically challenged multi-multi-millionaire named William Kelley, who’s financing the museum.  Known as the Moses Papyri, the scrolls in question may contradict the known gospels and have the power to re-write biblical history.  The problem is that they may have been acquired legitimately, or they may have been stolen by looters.  But you’ll have to read this outstanding, well-researched and exciting thriller for yourself to find out.  Ms Nickless is writing with a style and grace that will put her on every mystery fan’s reading list and propel her name to the top of the best-seller charts!!


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